My Word - April/May 2011

It has been a busy few months both in the appraisal and art business and now we are preparing for the summer taping of Antiques Roadshow Season 16. I will be all over the country in the next 90 days so if you are interested in what we are offering or need appraisal or authentication services, call me and maybe we can work out a visit. On another note after living in Bahrain for almost four years, it seems somewhat ironic that the big buyer at Sothebys for both the American Indian and African sales this month is a resident of Qatar in the Gulf. While this fact alone is intriguing and would certainly be exciting reason to return to this part of the world, I am even more curious as to the identity of the under bidder. What are the odds that we would find two buyers that are fascinated by such disparate fields  as American Indian and African and both would be willing to buy at a multiple of ten times the estimate? Do we have dueling shaikhs (pronounced shakes not sheeks)? Who knows.... but it certainly is interesting.

In the past several months I have heard more and more about private sales at the major auction houses. Certainly this has been going on for years, bit I wonder whether you can be a private dealer and a public auction house at the same time. Is there a conflict of interest? Does the public and the law regard dealers and auctions houses differently. I think they do. Generally, if you have two passionate collectors that bid something into the stratosphere, the auction house audience claps in approval. On the other hand if the private dealer or auction house misrepresents an object or over charges a client there can be hell to pay both in civil and criminal court. If auction houses are going to become dealers, should they be accountable? There is this notion that auction houses are a neutral party providing a service; however, they very much have a vested interest in the outcome of an auction. This is a topic the newsletter will look at in more depth in the coming months.

The Roadshow schedule is posted in this Newsletter. Hope to see you. have a good summer. JB